Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 6

Declan’s Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 6


Everyone realises today that there is only two days left so there is an extra effort today to get as much done as possible. With the tree planting complete, that crew are back at the orphanage and we have extra hands to get work done. The first job today is to fit out the book store, the other volunteers have spent yesterday emptying out boxes of old books so that we can put up shelves. These books are all going back as nothing here is ever thrown out.

The great thing about these trips apart from the work that’s done is the fact that you meet so many good people, Marc, my roommate is from Atlanta, David and Jim from Block Island, Stephen and Catherine from Dublin, John from Mayo, Noel, Mary, Ailish and so many more people who have raised a minimum of €4,500 each for the charity and who are working flat out doing work that in many cases is outside their comfort zone.

Spider- Haven Haiti Diary 2015At dinner last night a tarantula crawled out and walked across the wall. They say that they wont bite you if you don’t annoy them and as Billy Connolly says ‘who gets up in the morning and says ‘I think I’ll go out and annoy that feckin spider today’. I leave well enough alone.

There is a bit of panic in the village today, in one of the buildings we are putting a new roof on there is a snake nesting. This is really bad in voodoo land as the creole name is serpent and the locals don’t like this. We manage to knock it to the ground and the locals beat it with sticks until it doesn’t move anymore.

The concrete crew have just one more "Honkey" Haven Haiti Diary 2015bit of path to do and for the first time there will be a paved road on the island. Its hard to believe that on the island that there are no roads. People get about by motorbike or what I called a ‘Honkey’ which is a cross between a horse and a donkey.

Sand roads- Haven Haiti Diary 2015Tonight we are going to walk back to the place we are staying, its about 12k and we have to go on whats known as ‘Route National 1’ which turns out to be a dirt track that runs east west across the length of the island. There isn’t a square foot of tarmac on this island! We head off up the hill called the citadel and stop at Ailish’s house, which is a one bedroomed square house overlooking the western tip of the island and has breath-taking views.

Ailish is from Loughrea in Galway and has made a decision to stay on the island and work with the charity long term. I know we do a lot in giving up our time for a week but to have the dedication to stay here long term is a vocation and something only people with true dedication can actually commit to.

local bakery Haven Haiti Diary 2015We continue down the path and pass a thatched home with an outside oven that Ailish says is the local bakery. All along the track there are people outside their houses washing clothes and planting trees and crops, each family has a small holding and the first thing you notice is that there is no running water and no electricity. Each village has a communal well and a solar powered lamp post where the locals can charge their mobile phones.

It’s a fascinating experience to really get among the local population and see what daily life is like. Despite not having anything they seem to be happy and just get on with their daily chores. On the way we see some of the house upgrades that the Haven team complete during the year. I’m disappointed because my phone is dead but the houses are really nice, they have been upgraded from mud huts to a house with block walls that are plastered and have a concrete floor. The charity manage to achieve this on a budget of $500 which is a pittance.

We get back just before dark and I am wrecked! My legs feel like I have done a marathon so I am ready for bed, I walk to the bar and decide that one beer will help me sleep and maybe quench my thirst….!

Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 5

Declan’s Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 5

Tuesday morning

boat- Haven Haiti Diary 2015The boat trip this morning is nice and cool, It is still 28 degrees at night in high humidity. Everyone is up early this morning and rearing to go. I pack some of the gifts that we brought and bring them along, we have crayons and chalkfor the kids at the school. Today we are putting a door into an opening to create a new office for the manager of the orphanage. My first job is to take some shelves off the wall, behind one of them there is a family of cockroaches living! These are not your average European types but big brown Caribbean flying roaches. My trusty assistant John Boyle uses his big Mayo boot and squashes them.

I’m in the stores getting some material this morning and I come across a local machete, this thing is lethal, the blade is heavy and sharp and you can see how it does so much damage. The nurse was showing me a guy that had slashed his own shin while cutting sugar cane and he was lucky to save his leg.

I get the door on which is pretty major as I haven’t hung a door in years but it passes the test! The rest of the team are making great progress, the planting team have almost 3,000 trees planted and on the way are seeing most of the island. The path team are doing major work, they are working on the side of a hill mixing concrete and transporting it with a wheelbarrow to where its being poured, everything is being done by hand and in this heat is just back breaking work.

The playground teammassey ferguson -Haven Haiti Diary 2015 are making really good progress and they are now starting to paint the playground area in bright colours. The kids are looking on in great anticipation. Up to now they had no toys and this will be something really unique for them. My buddy John Boyle is called away to get a Massey Ferguson 35 running. I don’t know how he does it but with little or nothing by way of parts or tools he gets it firing within a couple of hours!

Today we are joined by David Kane, my friend from Block Island in Rhode Island USA, he is helping me finish off the doors and hang some new doors on the shower block outside, we also get a chance to put a new roof on a gas store outside the kitchen. During this piece of work I disturb a nest of ants and they start running up my arm biting along the way. They are feckin sore and it takes me ages to get rid of them.

It looks all the time like there is going to be a thunder storm today and it’s a little darker due to being overcast but its still really warm and our water boy is saying that the group are now consuming over 10 litres of water a day.

drinking Rum-Haven Haiti Diary 2015After my evening swim we go back to the bar and the Haven girls have set up a pub quiz for us during which I get to sample some of the local Haitian rum. Its delicious with coke or ginger ale or lemonade for that matter! I will have no problem sleeping tonight!

We don’t do well in the quiz as my answers get a bit garbled after a while and my American teammates get three American general knowledge questions wrong!

I end up in bed somehow and its literally lights out, my room mate sets the alarm for the morning!

Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 4

Declan’s Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 4

It’s Monday morning. We are 5 hours behind Irish time so already the emails are flying in. Among them more donations which I am really grateful for. They are going to a great cause.

One piece of news which is really great is that Dundalk RFC have won promotion to the All Ireland League. I was sorry I missed the game but was delighted with the result.

On the way to the site this morning we pass a fishingDeclan sawing wood-Haven Haiti Diary 2015 boat. As with everything else here it has no engine and is held together with plastic and string. The Haitian sailors though are really skilled as the have to sail up to nets and pots with no power and stop the boat with no brakes!

My first job when we get to the orphanage is to repair the doors of an office which are badly rotten and need some work. I am working with John another volunteer from Mayo, the heat is unbelievable even at 7 am. It’s about 32 degrees with 80% humidity. We have been told to drink plenty of water and by the end of the day I have consumed almost 10 litres and not gone to the loo once!

orphanage -Haven Haiti Diary 2015I take a walk through the orphanage, there are 70 children here and about 20 of these are disabled. They are lucky as over the years wheel chairs and other mobility aids have been delivered to give them somecomfort but its still really tough to look at. You wonder how many of these lovely faces will be still alive in a few months’ time. One little guy catches my eye as he is whizzing around on a little trolley. I had one just like it when I was a kid and used to wheel play blocks around in it. San San uses it to get around by pushing his hands along the ground. He has developed great upper body strength and is into everything.

We are getting through fixing the door,we cut the rotten wood off the bottom and put a new piece on. It takes a couple of hours but at the end I’m proud of the job we have done and my carpentry skills are coming back to me!

Lunch doesn’t come quick enough! Lunch time-Haven Haiti Diary 2015We don’t take a break in the morning so we work from 8 am to about 1 pm and we dig into the salad and bread that Franks team from Stellar Haiti have prepared.

John Boyle from Mayo is my partner for the day and we get through a fair amount of work! The afternoon gets tougher as the sun gets warmer. The idea is to keep busy though and its not hard as we know we only have a short time here and we want to get as much done as possible.

After we get the boat home I go for a swim with some of the other volunteers, its magic! That evening we have a really nice meal where we are staying and there is a great sense of teamwork around the camp. We are looking forward to tomorrow and no one really stays out late its just bed and get ready for the next days work!



If you would like to help support Declan and Haven in their build, log on to the Haven website and see how you can help this fantastic organisation.

Manual Handling

Rumi, is the most popular Sufi poet in the world. His work is not only deep and intense, but also very ethereal. His poetry often stirs an emotion never touched and shows a facet never seen. This Buzzle article has a collection of some beautiful Rumi quotes that are worth reading, without which, life would literally feel quite disregarded.

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”
“Two there are who are never satisfied — the lover of the world and the lover of knowledge.”
“What you seek is seeking you.”
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
“Do you know what you are? You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter. You are a mirror reflecting a noble face. This universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you are already that.”
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
“Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.”
“Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.”
“When you go through a hard period, when everything seems to oppose you, … When you feel you cannot even bear one more minute, NEVER GIVE UP! Because it is the time and place that the course will divert!”